Fr. Raymond Gravel’s dissent on abortion and homosexuality is well documented. However, few people are aware that he dissents in many other areas of Catholic teaching. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, Catholic teachings are very intertwined and linked, such that you will rarely find a person who dissents on just a single element teaching. Dissent comes in bunches.
Fr.Gravel has been whining recently that good people like LifeSiteNews are “misquoting” him. So we’ll look directly at his own writings and see how his own pen proves his betrayal of the Faith he vowed to serve. Today, we look at a crucial aspect of the Catholic faith with which Fr. Gravel is at odds: the Eucharist.
Fr. Gravel provides pastoral services to the policeman of Laval and the firemen of Montréal. On Sunday, June 6, 2010 (the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, also called Corpus Christi), Fr. Gravel gave a homily entitled “A bread to be shared and not adored!” You can read the complete French version on the website of the diocese of Joliette here. Below, I have translated the key excerpts of concern. Note: if the text seems incoherent at times, its not my fault. I’m just translating what he wrote, as he wrote it. It’s not my job to fix his sentence structures.
Some background on the Mass for June 6: the second reading was 1 Corinthians 23-26, where St. Paul describes the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. The Gospel reading was Luke 9:11-17, which is an account of the multiplication of the loaves and the fish.
The entire first paragraph of his homily is copied below:
1. The Eucharist : a celebration and not a sacrifice : I have always asked myself, by what deviation we, in the Church, came to celebrate the Eucharist as a sacrifice, that of the Cross, that we would endlessly repeat at each of our Masses? Yes! Christ died! Be he rose from the dead! His death, therefore, is not an end in itself and cannot be repeated, because he only died once. Christ’s death only has meaning for us to the extent that it is followed by the Resurrection. And it’s this event of Easter: Death Resurrection, that we celebrate in the Eucharist. Saint Paul reminds us in the second reading today, in his First Letter to the Corinthians, when he writes: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Cor 11,26).
While there are some accurate statements in that paragraph, such as the interconnectedness of Christ’s Death and Resurrection and the fact that Christ only died once, there are some grave errors also.
From the beginning, the Church has always taught that the Mass is both a sacrifice and a celebration. The sacrificial aspect of the Mass is clearly explained in the Catechism #1330, which is situated in a section of the Catechism that enumerates the various names given to this wonderful sacrament:
The memorial of the Lord’s Passion and Resurrection.
The Holy Sacrifice, because it makes present the one sacrifice of Christ the Savior and includes the Church’s offering. The terms holy sacrifice of the Mass, “sacrifice of praise,” spiritual sacrifice, pure and holy sacrifice are also used,150 since it completes and surpasses all the sacrifices of the Old Covenant.
This reflects the continuous teaching of the Church Fathers and of Scripture itself, for even the words of Christ at the Last Supper convey the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist:
“This is my body which will be given up for you”
“This is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that sins my be forgiven.”
To deny the sacrificial nature of the Mass is a fundamental error for a Catholic priest. The Eucharist is supposed to be the centre of a priest’s life. Not only does Fr. Gravel disagree with the teaching, but he calls it a “deviation” and seems to be revolted by it.
Moreover, he seems to think that the Church teaches that Christ dies again and again at each Mass. This is obviously false. Christ died once. At Mass, this unique sacrifice is presented again to the Father to bring down graces of forgiveness and healing on the world. The best analogy I’ve heard is this: at Mass, it’s as if we step into a time machine and are transported back to Calvary to witness the one sacrifice of the Cross and unite ourselves to it. So is Christ dying over and over? No. It’s hard to believe that a priest of 25 years would publicly reject these teachings.
But he isn’t done ransacking Church teaching on the Eucharist on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. The next paragraph of his homily starts like this:
2. Eucharist: bread to be shared and not adored: The story of the multiplication of the bread that is related 6 times in the gospels: 2 in Matthew, 2 in Mark, 1 in Luke and 1 in John. The account that we have today, from Luke, presents, as the others, strong Eucharistic overtones. While we don’t have the description of how this miracle was performed, we must underscore the importance of this theological event, because it is related 6 times in the gospels.
The first sentence really bugs me: “Eucharist: bread to be shared and not adored.” He repeats this thought later in the homily, as we’ll see below. It’s also the title of his homily. So there’s quite an emphasis. Is he rejecting the practice of Eucharistic Adoration?
The next two paragraphs make some parallels between the multiplication of the loaves and the fish, as related in Luke 9, with the words of the Consecration. It’s true that there are clear parallels. In this account of the multiplication, we read that Jesus “looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples” (Luke 9:16) These words are very similar to the Consecration: “he took break and gave you thanks and praise. He broke the bread, gave it to his disciples.” But the Church has never taught that the multiplication of the loaves was a Mass or that the bread distributed to the crowds was the Eucharist. The multiplication of the loaves was a prefiguring of the Eucharist, but it was not the actual Eucharist. Yet this is what Fr. Gravel says in the penultimate paragraph of his homily:
Finally, with this account from Luke, the Christian mission has already begun: the Apostles share in Jesus’ mission. Like him, they proclaimed the Kingdom of God and performed healings (Lk 9,1-2.6). Tired from their mission, they have an eagerness about them: “Send the crowd away, so that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside, to lodge and get provisions; for we are here in a deserted place.” (Lk 9,12b). One thing is certain: this Eucharistic bread is not made to be adored, but to be distributed and shared. And if there is so much left over, it is to feed all the others that aren’t present at the gathering.
So the multiplication of the loaves was the Eucharist? And again the notion that the Eucharist is not meant to be adored? Not exactly by the book Catholicism, eh?
Clearly, Fr. Gravel has major issues in his understanding of the Eucharist. He’s spreading his errors to unsuspecting lay people, compromising their salvation. This must stop.
Keep in mind this horrible homily is posted on the web site of the diocese. What does that suggest about Bishop Gilles Lussier’s views about Fr. Gravel and his teachings? That’s a topic for another day.
Please pray for him and his bishop. And keep those letters moving to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith at firstname.lastname@example.org.